Heroes aren’t hard to find

Published 8:50 am Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It seems that almost every day either one of our professional sports icons explains his latest arrest or a respected politician apologizes for a lapse in moral judgment. And in this media-driven society, in which we’ve nearly become de-sensitized to these falls from grace, heroes are progressively harder and harder to find.


I’m here to tell you that isn’t so. I’m here to tell you that worthy role models still abound and that examples of decency and goodness still do exist. I’m here to tell you that, on the contrary, heroes aren’t hard to find.

Approximately 192,370 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women in 2009; about 40,000 women will die from it. These are just numbers, I know, but behind each statistic is a person — a mother, a daughter, a friend. And yes, a hero. Let me tell you about mine.

My former sister-in-law Kathy Clements lost her battle with breast cancer on June 3. She had fought this disease, without remission, for 12 years.

Many of you in this community may have known Kathy. Thus, you will know why it’s easy for all whose lives she touched to call her our hero. The courage and optimism she exhibited is a lesson for us all. She is the reason her grandchildren have colorful and vivid memories to tuck away in their arsenal of hope as they grow older and encounter their own hardships in life. She is the reason her daughters are strong and determined to teach their own children the importance of faith in a doubt-filled society. And she is the reason I’m writing this column — to remind us all that heroes like Kathy are still out there, but it is not enough to simply recognize them. We have to learn from them.

Kathy is not the only one who has been dealt a hand far harder than others and turned it into a legacy of hope. There are many people like her, some probably in your own home. These people are heroes. Whether it is breast cancer or another disease they are battling, they face the job of not losing hope every day. They look in the mirror each morning and remind themselves of a reason to fight. They rally strength when they are exhausted. They smile when they feel like crying. These are the true heroes who give us much more than we can ever offer them because they give us an opportunity to show our children firsthand how to rise above circumstances and give something valuable and prolific to the world.

In Mitch Albom’s book “Tuesdays with Morrie,” Morrie says that one doesn’t really know how to live until they learn how to die. I don’t know about you, but I want my children to know how to live — to really live — with passion and kindness and a zest for helping others. And I know they can learn this lesson best from heroes like Kathy. So I encourage you to join me in following our heroes’ examples. Let’s give something back.

In October, my sister June Steele and I will join Kathy’s daughter, Katie Cobb, in walking 60 miles in three days in Tampa, Fla. It is the Breast Cancer 3-day Walk to raise funds for breast cancer research. We are an unlikely team.

Katie’s training regimen so far has consisted of riding her golf cart to her mailbox each day (she claims she’s going to start walking that route soon), I just bought my first pair of orthopedic shoes (no lie) and June will be absolutely no help in pitching our tent each night (as I discovered the last time we attempted this venture).

The thought of camping out each night after adding more blisters to our feet each day does not excite us. And the thought of raising such a large amount of money terrifies us. But we are going to do it. We are going to give back. We are going to do our small part in helping with cancer research because we love Kathy, because heroes really do matter and because everyone deserves a lifetime.

If you would like to help us meet our fundraising goal of $6,900, you can mail a check made out to Breast Cancer 3-Day and send it to Katie Cobb,10131 Fortsville Road, Capron, VA 23829.

Wendy Williams Robbins, the owner of a small manufacturing company called It’s a Wrap Ideas, was born in Capron. She now resides in Villa Hills, Ky.